Key stakeholders discuss a better integration of agricultural community in the bio-based industry

06 July 2021

The workshop Integrating the agricultural primary sector in the sustainable bio-based economy took place on 29 June 2021 to discuss how they can get more involved in the bio-based sector. Follow-up actions to the recommendations of a BBI JU study on this topic, as well as success stories from the programme were presented at the event triggering a discussion on the remaining challenges. Conclusions of the workshop will provide recommendations on how to enhance the participation of the agricultural sector in the bio-based value chains in the coming years and in particular with the support of the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme.

The agricultural sector is central to BBI JU. Farmers are key actors of the bio-based industries because they form the first segment of the bio-based value chains by providing sustainable feedstock to biorefineries. They also help to consolidate local bio-based value chains and develop new business models in rural areas leading to an important economic impact  - new jobs, alternative income sources and boosted local economies,’ said Philippe Mengal, BBI JU’s Executive Director at the opening of the workshop.

Currently about half of the 142 BBI JU-funded projects are using agricultural feedstock. Out of these, 91% are exploiting waste and by-products, and 7% cultivating crops on marginal lands that are not suitable for agriculture. The workshop highlighted a number of successful business models among which the GreenProtein and FIRST2RUN projects funded by BBI JU, as well as other examples ranging from turning the winemaking waste into organic fertiliser in Italy, to extracting smart nutrients from legumes in Latvia.

Watch how Coldiretti, the biggest farmers’ association in Italy, has contributed to the First2Run project in a strong collaboration with the project’s coordinator Novamont.

The workshop participants identified some challenges to overcome in the future, such as difficulties encountered by farmers to join EU-funded projects. They also stressed the need to extend the participation of farmers in the bio-based value chains beyond the supply of biomass. In particular, the need to raise awareness about opportunities for agricultural primary producers and enhance their role in the bio-based value chains, while considering the local particularities and diversity of rural areas was highlighted.

BBI JU’s States Representatives Group organised this workshop in collaboration with the Strategic Working Group on Bioeconomy of the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR), an advisory body on European agricultural and wider bioeconomy research. Participants from the European Commission, the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC), the private sector and BBI JU took part in the workshop.